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Weekly Address: President Obama-Reaching a Comprehensive, Long-Term Deal on Iran’s Nuclear Program

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.


From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President described the historic understanding the United States — with our allies and partners — reached with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. The deal, announced on Thursday, meets our core objectives of cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

It is both comprehensive and long-term, and includes robust and intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear program. The President reiterated that the deal is not yet done — and if there is backsliding from Iran in the months to come, there will be no deal. He echoed his belief that a diplomatic resolution is by far the best option, and promised to continue to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance and progress of the negotiations in the months to come.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Reaching a Comprehensive and Long-Term Deal on Iran’s Nuclear Program

This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.

This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy. It’s a good deal — a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb. It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced.

As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.

Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate. We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal. As we engage in this debate, let’s remember – we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities-which will only set its program back a few years-while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions-even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option-a comprehensive, long-term deal like this-is by far the best option. For the United States. For our allies. And for the world.

Our work — this deal — is not yet done. Diplomacy is painstaking work. Success is not guaranteed. But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.

Bolding added.



  1. From the White House: Cointinuing Our Focus on Solar Energy

    Today, President Obama visited Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, Utah to host a roundtable on clean energy, tour solar installations on the base, and talk about the importance of clean energy jobs.

    With the United States generating 20 times more solar electricity than when the President took office, we’ve made substantial progress — and in his remarks today, the President announced more actions to drive growth in the solar industry while supporting our nation’s veterans.

    “What I’m doing here today is to highlight the fact that the solar industry is actually adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy,” President Obama said. “They’re good-paying jobs that are helping folks enter into the middle class. And today, the President announced three new actions to build on this progress.

    First, he announced a new goal to train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, an increase on our previous goal of 50,000 solar workers. To reach this goal, the Department of Energy launched their SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network, which has trained 1,000 certified solar instructors and nearly 30,000 students nationwide in the last five years.

    Second, the President announced the launch of a Solar Ready Vets Program. This initiative will train transitioning military service personnel, including those stationed at the Hill Air Force Base, for careers in the quickly growing solar industry. Service members will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and comply with local building codes, making them employable in our 21st-century job market.

    Finally, the President announced new ways in which more veterans can use the post-9/11 GI Bill for solar jobs training. “I’ve said it before, and I think employers are starting to catch on, if you really want to get the job done, hire a veteran,” President Obama said. More than 30 percent of the federal workforce is now made up of veterans, and this new initiative will enable more veterans to use their GI Bill benefits to participate in job-driven training programs through local community colleges. This gives veterans across the country the opportunity to quickly learn the skills needed for good-paying jobs in the solar industry.

    Transcript: Remarks by the President on Jobs in Solar Energy

  2. John Kerry asks Iran to free Washington Post journalist Jazon Rezaian

    John Kerry again raised concerns over Iran’s prolonged detention of the Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, during talks with his counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif before Thursday’s historic agreement over the country’s nuclear programme.[…]

    Rezaian, a dual national of the US and Iran, was detained in July 2014 after security forces raided his home in Tehran and arrested him, his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist, and two friends, including an Iranian- American with connections to Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani.

    Rezaian was formally charged in January, but the Iranian government has not publicly disclosed the charges except to accuse him in a statement of “participating in activities outside the scope of journalism”.

    His family is hoping that the improved relations with Iran will help facilitate his release.

  3. Yesterday marked the 47th anniversary of his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” Speech.

    Short clip

    You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth. You are reminding not only Memphis but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people who live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.

    From American Rhetoric (full transcript and audio at the link)

    Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together. […]

    And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

    Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

    And I don’t mind.

    Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

  4. Politico: Ted Cruz’s passion play

    Ted Cruz’s aggressive pursuit of the evangelical vote began with a deliberate choice of venue for his presidential announcement two weeks ago: Liberty University, which bills itself as the largest Christian university in the world.

    The Texas Republican senator’s strategic play for Christian conservatives comes into even sharper focus this weekend as he rolls out the first television ad of the 2016 race. Titled “Blessing,” the commercial is aimed directly at evangelical and social conservative voters in early voting states, timed for Easter weekend and slated to air during popular Christian-themed programming.

    It’s an exercise in narrowcasting that telegraphs exactly how Cruz intends to win the GOP nomination against better-funded and better-known rivals. His advisers say the Liberty University backdrop, the TV ads and even his recent two-day tour of Iowa are all part of a detailed blueprint designed to tap into the power of two distinct GOP wings – evangelicals and the tea party movement.

    Those are also known as “Republican primary voters”.

    The thing about Cruz is that those features we see as disqualifying for a general election candidate are the things that are appealing to the Republican base. And unlike in the general election, the other GOP candidates will not be able to say “but look at the crazy things he is saying!!” because they will be met with blank stares by the primarygoers – they don’t see him and his positions as crazy. It is interesting that Cruz’s advisors are still focused on the supposed “missing white evangelical” who forgot to vote in 2012. They did not forget to vote … their numbers are simply too small to tilt a national election.

  5. The teaparty christianists really and truly do not “get” that their viewpoints are on the margins. The Republicans who won majorities in both houses of the legislature in Nevada in the low-turnout election of 2014 were blinded by their ideology and the situation in Indiana shocked them.

    Nevada’s ‘religious freedom’ legislation declared dead

    The reaction to Indiana’s legislation was a factor in deciding to withdraw the bill, [Assembly Judiciary Committee Vice Chairman Erven] Nelson said.

    “We obviously do not want to have happen in Nevada what’s been threatened to happen in Indiana as far as a boycott and things like that.”

    Their bill was nearly identical to Indiana’s and any boycotts would devastate the economy:

    The rising furor over whether such laws give businesses leave to discriminate against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender left many Nevadans wondering if the Silver State was in for similar troubles. The state’s economy relies on tourism, some of which is specifically marketed to LGBT tourists.

    The Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs had been watching the issue closely, according to tourism board spokeswoman Bethany Drysdale.

    “Tourism is Nevada’s No. 1 industry, employing more than 460,000 Nevadans,” she said earlier in the week. […]

    [Tod Story, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada pointed out that] Nevada’s economy relies on its visitors and its reputation for being a state that’s easy to do business in. “I don’t know who, worse than us, would be impacted. We are a tourism-based economy,” he said. “If you’re going to do business here, you can’t discriminate.”

    Smartypants wrote a post about how large businesses are becoming allies as the support for same-sex marriage is now mainstream. She included this chart to illustrate her point:

    When it comes to acceptance of the rights of gays and lesbians, we are now well into the stage where the “late majority” signs on. People running corporations are not only affected by this kind of change themselves, they know their customers are as well. The bottom line is that very few of them could survive by catering simply to the laggards.

    I love that term “catering to the laggards”!! It is encouraging to see that the Overton Window does sometimes shift left.  

  6. White House seeks millions for civil rights sites

    Communities and historically black colleges that played a key role in the civil rights movement would get millions of dollars under an administration plan to upgrade and preserve the movement’s most important sites.

    Administration officials want to spend $50 million on the initiative as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of key milestones in the civil rights movement.

    Sites in the South, the heart of the civil rights movement, are the most likely candidates.

    “We need to be reminded of the struggles that have happened in this country so that nobody forgets,” said civil rights veteran Charles Hicks, 70, a native of Bogalusa, La.

    The $50 million President Obama seeks in his fiscal 2016 budget includes $30 million in competitive grants to preserve stories and restore sites related to the civil rights movement and the African-American experience. […]

    Activists hope the administration’s proposal spurs national conversations about race relations and civil rights.

    “If you don’t understand the history, it’s hard to have the conversation,” said Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. “How could you have a conversation about, ‘Why would I get upset about you having a confederate flag on your license plate?’ Well, if you have historic amnesia, you don’t understand why that’s problematic.”

  7. This is a strong incentive for the Iranian government to complete the deal and abide by it.

    Iranians Celebrate Nuclear Deal As A New Economic Era

    The agreement was hailed by President Barack Obama as a “good deal” that “meets our core objectives.” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javed Zarif called it a “win-win outcome.”

    A more boisterous response was heard on the streets of Tehran. A cheering crowd offered Zarif a “hero’s welcome” when he landed in Iran on a flight from Switzerland, where the multilateral negotiations took place.

    “We are very happy, so happy,” a Tehran resident named Musa told the AP. “We haven’t make any big progress in 10 years, we are very happy that we can finally go forward. It’s a real victory for us.” […]

    The deal will significantly repeal sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies against Iran in 2010 that have, by the U.S. government’s own estimate, contracted Iran’s economy by one-fifth.

    Oil revenues once accounted for 80 percent of the country’s public revenue. Sanctions not only stripped Iran of profit from oil sales, but drove up operating costs which led to untrammeled inflations which reached a peak of 45 percent in July 2013, and only began to subside when sanctions against the country were eased as a part of the framework for nuclear negotiations. Soaring costs and persistent layoffs took their toll, leaving more than 40 percent of Iranians in poverty, and almost one-third of them unemployed.

    Where the stick of “Bomb Bomb Iran” did not move them much, the carrot of an improved economy seems to have changed the narrative, just like in the tale of the North Wind and the Sun.

    Those who scream “But we can’t trust Iran!!!” need to wake up to 21st century reality: being a part of the new global economy is a strong incentive to being a good international citizen. All one has to do is look at Russia after sanctions were put in place … “P5+1” is 5 nations who are full partners in the 21st century economy and 1 nation that has made itself a pariah.


  8. Texas Bill Would Name Judges Who Give Minors Permission to Have Abortions

    The last time Texas lawmakers met in the state capitol, it was to pass the mammoth anti-abortion bill that was the target of state Sen. Wendy Davis’ all-night filibuster. Now the Legislature is in session again after a year-and-a-half-long recess, and conservatives are pushing a slew of new measures that would make it harder for women to end pregnancies.

    Two of these bills would publicize the names of judges who give minors permission to obtain abortions-a step that critics say would put judges under intense pressure, or even jeopardize their safety.

    In 38 states, it is illegal for a minor to terminate a pregnancy without one parent’s knowledge. (Some of those 38 states go further, and require a parent’s permission.) Girls who are afraid or unable to involve their parents can ask a judge for permission instead. This confidential process, which the Supreme Court helped establish in the late ’70s and early ’80s, is called judicial bypass. […]

    Proponents of the bills have argued that they would bring accountability to the bypass process. Critics say that the bills are aimed at discouraging judges from participating in bypass hearings. “This isn’t about transparency in the petition process. It’s about punishing judges,” warns Susan Hays, a Texas attorney

    “Accountability” as in making it impossible for judges to keep their jobs if they do their jobs.  

  9. And will she learn from her mistakes 8 years ago? How will Hillary announce?

    In January 2007, Clinton used a message on her website to announce her 2008 run for the White House.

    “I’m in, and I’m in to win,” Clinton told the world.

    But outside of a few webcasts in the following days, that Clinton campaign staged a very slow rollout. She gave no political speeches until March, when she marked the anniversary of the Selma civil rights marches in Alabama. […]

    Many strategists expect her to release [a] video in April, but follow it up with a swing through key primary and general election states. Without the obligations in the Senate that tied her up in 2008, she can build off that momentum and work to define her candidacy from the start.

    “I think you do multiple speeches in key states and showcase that she is going to be a candidate that will go to every corner of the country, even go to some red states and take the message there,” one Democratic strategist said, adding that a multi-state rollout could show that Clinton won’t take anything for granted this time. […]

    A Democratic strategist added that the quest to paint Clinton as relatable starts as early as the announcement video. He called her 2008 announcement video, which had her sitting alone in a living room, “tone deaf.”

    “The knock against Hillary in the last campaign was: Can she convey some humanity and feeling and concern for other folks?”

    So can she answer the “are you likeable enough?” question before others set a narrative for her?

  10. Colbert King in WaPo: A rising insurrection against Obama

    It’s a scary thought, but here it is: If some red states were to openly defy the authority of President Obama in the exercise of his constitutional duties, would today’s Republican Congress side with him? Or would they honor the insurrection? […]

    Last month, the Republican-led Arizona House of Representatives passed, on a 36-to-24 party-line vote, a bill sponsored by tea party Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the President of the U.S. that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”

    If adopted by the Arizona Senate and signed into law, executive orders issued by the president would have no force or effect in that state.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has instructed states to defy EPA regulations, 47 Senators instructed Iran to ignore the president’s foreign policy initiatives, and countless other instances of disrespect for both the president and the constitution have been part of the teaparty strategy.

    American history teaches that we are on a dangerous path. And history has a way of repeating itself. A little more than 150 years ago, this country experienced another bombastic phase. Hatred of a president and his government’s policies produced a bloody schism that eventually led to an accord grounded in hope but which papered over a disharmony still lingering today. […]

    Then, as now, there was a president, Abraham Lincoln, accused by those who detested him of misusing presidential power, subverting the Constitution and trampling over states’ rights. Then, as now, that president was characterized as a ruthless tyrant bent upon destroying a superior civilization.

    The new Confederate Party, a party that has rejected its history and its first president, has been emboldening those red states by their actions.

  11. Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald: America shattered 150 years ago, still not healed

    [Two days after the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse,] as beaten rebels surrendered their weapons to the Union Army, Union General Joshua Chamberlain remarked to Southern counterpart Henry Wise that perhaps now “brave men may become good friends.”

    Wise’s reply was bitter as smoke. “You’re mistaken, sir,” he said. “You may forgive us, but we won’t be forgiven. There is a rancor in our hearts which you little dream of. We hate you, sir.

    Two days after that, April 14, Lincoln received a more direct response. John Wilkes Booth, famed actor and Southern sympathizer, shot him in the head. […]

    If the “hate” Henry Wise spoke of has dissipated in the 15 decades gone by, what has not faded is Dixie’s sense of itself as a place apart and a people done wrong. Small wonder.

    Twice now – at gunpoint in the 1860s, by force of law a century later – the rest of the country has imposed change on the South, made it do what it did not want to do, i.e., extend basic human rights to those it had systematically brutalized and oppressed. […]

    America shattered in 1861. Lincoln forced the bloody pieces back together at the cost of over 600,000 lives, one of them his own. It never did knit itself back together in the way he had hoped – in the way he might have helped it to, had he survived.

    Instead, it became this once broken thing where the seams of repair still show. And the question of that consequential week is the question of every day since then. Can you make a country out of that?

    Maybe. Ironically, the man who campaigned on eliminating the distinction of red states and blue states and calling for us to come together as the United States, has, simply by the fact of his race and the unresolved bitterness in the “we hate you”s of the Southern states, seen the gulf widen. Or maybe the gulf was always there, covered with brush like a booby trap, waiting for someone to dare venture over to shake hands with the enemy of the union? Perhaps now what we see the chasm and have identified those who would widen it instead of attempt to bridge it, we can make some progress.  

  12. Portlaw

    Days after coming out against the recently announced framework agreement that aims to reduce Iran’s nuclear capabilities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the Sunday talk shows to once again voice his opposition.

    “I think this is a bad deal,” Netanyahu told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure.”

    The Israeli prime minister went on to reiterate a claim he made on Friday, saying that the easing of sanctions would boost Iran’s economy and free the nation to support terrorism.

    I don’t “do” tv so don’t know how prevalent his view is. Not happy.

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